Imminent danger

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Never mind the 2017 Duterte State of the Nation Address, which was replete with profanities, self-serving claims of current and future progress on various fronts, among them the regime’s brutal and failing war on drugs, and justifications for the use of unaccountable State violence. Take his so-called assurance that he won’t place the entire country under martial law with a reasonable amount of skepticism. All SONAs are after all political and since Commonwealth days have served the ends of every Philippine regime without exception.

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The past in the present

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IF those who fear martial law are “living in the past,” it is because much of that past, with or without martial law, is still very much in the present. Human rights defenders are still under threat, and farmer leaders, indigenous people, protesters and political activists harassed and even killed, even as a brutal “war on drugs” that presumes guilt rather than innocence continues to claim dozens of lives every week at the hands of a police force emboldened by President Rodrigo Duterte’s frequent assurances of impunity, or exemption from punishment.

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Refuge of scoundrels

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TO Samuel Johnson (born 1709; died 1784), poet, essayist and author of A Dictionary of the English Language (published in April, 1755), do we owe the observation that “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

His biographer James Boswell (born 1740; died 1795) claimed that Johnson wasn’t condemning patriotism but how it was being misused by the unscrupulous to justify even the foulest of deeds. If that was indeed what Johnson meant, he was not not only being astutely observant about his times; he was also being prophetic. Scoundrels have indeed used patriotism, or love of country, to justify even the worst crimes.

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Earning credibility

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Ferdinand E. Marcos, the Philippine government’s Official Gazette’s social media post finally said in its third revision of the caption accompanying the late dictator’s September 11 birthday photo, was “the longest serving President of the country for almost 21 years.”

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Defending EDCA, setting the rules

Junk EDCA (Sarah Raymundo/Arkibong Bayan)
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ALTHOUGH critical of President Benigno Aquino III, Senate minority leader—and former Marcos defense minister—Juan Ponce Enrile verbalized what the Aquino administration hasn’t been explicitly saying about the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Speaking to the media a day after the Supreme Court ruling that EDCA is an executive agreement rather than a treaty and therefore did not need Senate approval, Enrile declared that the country needs EDCA because “we cannot protect our people since we don’t have credible defense forces.”

The Enrile argument in favor of EDCA echoed what had either been merely implied in the Aquino administration’s defense of it, or broadly hinted at by its other supporters: because the Philippine military cannot defend the Philippines, it’s up to the United States to do it. It’s an argument as hoary with age as EDCA’s latest advocate, having been first raised in 1946 by Manuel Roxas, and repeated ad nauseam by a succession of so-called Philippine leaders during the Cold War era.

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History as tragedy, history as farce

Sen. Bongbong Marcos in Pangasinan (Senate photo)
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FERDINAND MARCOS, JR. (“Bongbong”) was talking “revolution” last Saturday, October 17. The occasion was his formal declaration during a ceremony in Manila’s Intramuros (walled city) that he’s running for Vice President of the Republic in 2016.

He didn’t sound as if he were running for the country’s second highest post, however, but for its highest. He said he would “lead a revolution in the mind, in the heart, and in action (“Pamumunuan ko ang isang rebolusyon sa isip, sa puso, at sa gawa”). He also said “Hindi pa tapos ang rebolusyon. Hindi pa tayo lubos na malaya (The revolution is not yet over. We are not yet truly free).”

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